Crickets stay at state short again in semifinal loss

By Sean Scallon

WAUSAU - It started out so well and to see it fall apart so quickly brought back feelings of deja vu for head coach Matt Prissel and the Fall Creek High School Volleyball Team in the semifinals of the WIAA Division 3 State Tournament last week Saturday, Nov. 7 at Wausau West High School.

The Crickets had been in the state tournament last season but lost soundly to eventual state champion Howards Grove, especially in Game 3 by a 25-7 score.

FC faced a similar situation after a 25-17 loss in Game 2 to Waterloo, the No. 2 seed in the tournament. The Crickets were never were closer than two points after the start of the game and faced the prospect of another bad Game 3 loss in the state semifinals as the Pirates had all the momentum.

But the Crickets put forth a strong effort in Game 3, grabbing a lead and staying with the Pirates until they were beaten 25-22 and finishing the season with a 16-3 overall record.

"They're a very good team and they came ready to play and they put a lot of pressure on us," Prissel said. "But we played better in this year's tournament and were more competitive and I was very pleased with our effort in the third game. It's the best game we've played at state and I'm proud of the girls for fighting to the end despite being down on the scoreboard."

It started out so well for the Crickets. They took an 8-2 lead in Game 1 thanks for a kill for Sam Olson and an ace by server Mackensey Kolpien. But the Pirates, 22-5 overall also made a lot of mistakes to push up the Crickets' lead and once that stopped, they roared back in front led by their two top hitters, seniors Brooke Mosher and Joslyn Wolff. Their cannon-like spikes rallied the Pirates to outscore FC 23-9 for a 25-17 win in Game 1 and by similar score in Game 2 after again trailing early on.

Mosher finished with 19 kills and Wolff had 12. They also led their team in assists with 13 and 12.

"Mosher is a special player and when you add in Wolff too, that's a pretty powerful 1-2 scoring combo," Prissel said.

Game 3 started out out in Waterloo's favor, a 4-0 margin after an ace by Wolff. But the Crickets rallied to outscore Waterloo 12-7 to take the lead after a kill by junior middle blocker Gianna Vollrath who led the team with 11. FC went up 15-13 after another ace by Kolpien and 17-15 after an ace by Vollrath. Waterloo came back to take the lead but was only up 21-20 after a foot fault mistake. But a kill by Wolff broke the C rickets' momentum and the Pirates went on to win final game and win the match 3-0.

FC's Tori Marten finished with three kills and Olson had 12 assists. Olson, Vollrath and Hannah Herrem all had nine digs and Emily Madden had eight. Emma Ryan finished with a block kill.

Fall Creek will graduate six seniors (Madden, Ryan, Kolpien, Arin Lipke, Jaedyn Mansur, Hannah Ming and Katie Johnston) from this fall's state tournament team but they graduated a lot of seniors from last season state team as well. Prissel hopes it won't be a deterrent to another state tourney run or COVID-19 for that matter top hopefully play a full season.

"I hope everyone enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to play this season," Prissel said. "I hope they're special memories for our seniors and for those coming back next season. It was a special group to coach and an honor to do so. And for those coming back, they have more state tournament experience and hopefully it make us a better team and program going forward."

Waterloo was able to win the first game of the Division 3 championship match against defending champ Howards Grove but lost 3-1 as the Tigers repeated as state champions.

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